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I wish someone had told me that when I started!

Pages in this Story:
Pencil marking a board
Enlarge Image
A story stick ensures marking
accuracy, especially when laying
out multiple parts or transferring
measurements among workpieces.
End of chisel
Enlarge Image
Fix your goofs -- such as slicing
away a dried-on finish drip -- and
then bask in your new-found
woodworking confidence.


1. Don't get hung up on tape measures.
Instead, rely on story sticks (right) or simply cutting pieces to fit. Sneak up on cuts, testing on scrap first and fitting along the way. If you mark your cuts with a pencil line, leave the line showing and sand to it.

2. Use sharp tools.
Tear-out and chipping caused by dull blades frustrates all woodworkers. Besides, sharp tools cut with less effort, so they're safer. And because they cut cleanly, they'll save you lots of time sanding. Learn basic sharpening skills and spend a few minutes honing your tools before each use.

3. All woodworkers make mistakes.
Acknowledge them. Learn from them. But, most of all, shut up about them. Most people won't notice mistakes, so stop pointing them out when you show off your project. It will do wonders for your confidence.

4. Remember that woodworking is a hobby.
It's supposed to be fun and relaxing, so take your time, and enjoy the process. Josh Phillips, one of my very talented viewers, told me that he has "no mania for perfection." I love that line. Build to the best of your ability but don't drive yourself crazy.

5. Ask for help.
Woodworkers are a helpful bunch, eager to share advice no matter what your struggle. And we live in a time in which we can quickly get answers to anything. Get actively involved in online communities such as, Facebook,, etc. For my videos, I rely heavily on the help given by woodworkers who continually supply solutions and inspiration that I wouldn't have thought of.

-- Steve Ramsey's quirky woodworking videos and prolific musings can be found at where his goal is to reclaim the woodworking hobby for the average guy.


Comments (1)
tommandkay wrote:

I also wish I had learned early on to take my time. My earliest projects were very slam bang, get it done and get it done quickly. I learned later that it's the journey not the destination; to take time, enjoy the work. In the end, there is more satisfaction, and usually a better project.

9/26/2014 12:17:16 AM Report Abuse

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